2018

The movies of 2018 were a mixed bag. This is a list of my favorite films of this year. These are the movies I had the most fun with and believe that you, as a reader, will have the most fun with as well. All of these movies left a good impression on me this year and will hopefully leave a powerful legacy as well.

10. “Eighth Grade”

Middle School is a pretty miserable experience for most people. It’s filled with awkwardness, hormones and a period of universal introverted-ness. Bo Burnham perfectly captures that horror with his directorial debut, “Eighth Grade.” “Eighth Grade” follows Kayla Day and the last few days of her middle school experience. Day, like many middle schoolers, struggles with social anxiety, making friends and acceptance, and this makes her such a likable character while also allowing people to connect with the story through the same experience that so many people had in middle school.

9. “Mission Impossible: Fallout”

What makes “Mission Impossible: Fallout” such a fantastic film is its brutal action scenes, its intricate cinematography, Tom Cruise and his co-stars’ dedication to the franchise, and the fact that this is the sixth film in this twenty-two-year-old franchise that feels like it’s just getting started. Action movies can often focus solely on the action while ignoring much of their plot. While this is not always a bad thing, (see “Death Wish 3” or “Commando”) the action movies that leave their mark are those that are smart and have intriguing plots. “Mission Impossible: Fallout” not only reuses many of the same tropes from previous films, but perfects them and uses them to the film’s advantage to make more of an emotional investment. The characters are layered and complex, the dialogue is never bland or cheesy, and the stakes are higher than ever in this surprisingly enjoyable film.

8. “Ralph Breaks the Internet”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a rare movie that both pokes fun at itself while also taking its subject matter fairly seriously. When dealing with movies that take place within the internet, excess is a welcomed feature. It works with movies like this because the internet is chaotic and nearly infinite. Therefore, having as many different references on screen is appropriate. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” doesn’t overdo this either. It knows when to bombard the audience with references to internet culture and movies and when to hold back and focus on individual characters and the story. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” also deals with the idea that just because you don’t see your friends as much as you used to, doesn't mean that you’re not friends, a theme to which many people, especially those in college, can relate.

7. “Ready Player One”

Since Harry Potter, there has been a surge in young adult novels made into movies. With a few exceptions, the majority of these movies failed to capture the magic of their respective books or match the excitement and intensity of the Harry Potter franchise. “Ready Player One” is one of the few movies that has succeeded in translating this acclaimed book to the rare cinematic magic that was this movie. What makes “Ready Player One” so exciting and interesting is that it paints a possible picture of the future of humanity, both the good and the bad. Much of what was said about “Ralph Breaks the Internet” can be equated to “Ready Player One” as well. The movie’s excessive use of pop culture references and CGI is usually a trait that would be detrimental; however, it works well in “Ready Player One,” given the established universe and virtual world that the characters find themselves within. Yet, it also knows when to hold back its desire to interject references, mainly within the non-virtual world. This allows for excellent character growth, a fun story and the enjoyment of seeing familiar movies, video games and books respectively referenced. Above all, “Ready Player One” was just fun! Every scene within the video game world called the “Oasis” was exciting and took the viewer into a world of literally infinite possibilities and pure imagination.

6. “Bumblebee”

The Transformers franchise has long attracted the lowest tier of moviegoers. It consisted of a liberal use of explosions and CGI, poorly developed and annoying characters and humor that would cause a four-year-old to cringe. It is for those reasons that if someone had told me at the beginning of the year that “Bumblebee” would have been one of my favorite movies, I would have laughed in their face. However, “Bumblebee” is not only a surprisingly good Transformer movie, it is a legitimately good movie in its own right that mixes elements of “The Iron Giant” with “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial” and the Herbie films. “Bumblebee” refused to engage in the excessive battle scenes and explosives, and instead used the absence of those characteristics to create real and likable characters whose journey throughout the film is filled with serious, heartfelt moments and quite a bit of enjoyable comedy (the toilet paper scene in particular solidified this movie’s mark of high quality). It is hopeful that with this movie’s critical success, more “Transformer” films are made in this innocent, yet mature spirit, with the intent of revitalizing the franchise.

5. “A Quiet Place”

You never realise how important a certain thing is until you’re forced to live without it. In “A Quiet Place,” the main characters live in a world where they cannot make any noise and must learn to adapt to their circumstances. John Krasinski’s character and his family are hunted by creatures that sense prey solely through sound and are forced to abstain from talking and keep any other sounds they make to an absolute minimum. Just the initial idea of this film makes it intriguing, but it is when the film is examined that it truly becomes brilliant. There are a plethora of themes in “A Quiet Place,” ranging from possible religion and pro-life views to the relationship between parents and their children to sound as both a hindrance and a weapon. “A Quiet Place” is a layered and intellectual horror movie, one which should be viewed on the same level as famous works of literature.

4. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

As I stated in the intro, this is a list of my favorite films of the year, and not necessarily the best ones. In that respect, “Bohemian Rhapsody’s inclusion on this list is built almost entirely around my love for Queen. That being said, it is still a great movie and one that everyone, especially fans of Queen, should see. Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury is almost as legendary as the man himself. Not only is Malek’s performance wonderful, but so are the performances of his co-stars, s which are unfortunately overlooked due to Malek’s exceptionalism.. That being said, one of the few flaws of the movie is thatit claims to be a story about the rock band Queen, yet it is really the story of Freddie Mercury and his journey from working at an airport to being the frontman of the one of the greatest rock bands ever. The acting and the cinematography are legendary as is the way Queen’s music is incorporated into the movie.

3. “Hereditary”

While this list is about my favorite movies of the year, I do not wish to see “Hereditary” for a very long time. This is the scariest movie that I have ever seen, and it succeeded in terrifying me without a single jumpscare. Every minute spent watching the screen was a tense and uncomfortable experience. I was disturbed, shocked and wanted to go to church after my viewing experience. Strangely enough, many of the emotions felt during this movie are those which I would use to describe bad movies. However, “Hereditary” subverts expectations by taking these emotions and creating a story that is intriguing and simultaneously scarring. It is best to go into this movie knowing absolutely nothing about it.

2. “Bad Times at the El Royale”

Every year there is a film that is overlooked by both critics and the general audience. This year that movie is “Bad Times at the El Royale”. “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 1960s period piece about seven strangers with troubled pasts who meet at the mysterious El Royale Hotel. What makes this movie exceptional is how it plays off of the filmmaking of Quentin Tarantino by utilizing experimental editing, morally gray characters, a surprising and gripping opening scene, and a memorable and impactful use of music. Its graphic and sudden nature constantly shifted its tone from being a mystery-thriller to criminal drama while maintaining a slight psychedelic vibe. This is a movie that will certainly gain cult status in the near future as it will likely be overlooked by the Academy Awards.

1. “Avengers: Infinity War”

“Avengers: Infinity War” is a first of its kind in many ways. It is the culmination of over ten years of almost universally-acclaimed superhero films; which is a cinematic achievement that should be acknowledged. The movie continues the trend Marvel movies have followed in the recent history: the characters are likeable, the action is fast-paced and exciting and the visuals are aesthetically appealing while also being grounded in the reality of the universe. Also, it's funny. Every actor gives a good performance—Robert Downey Jr., Tom Holland, Chris Hemsworth and Josh Brolin stand out among a brilliant cast. However, what makes “Infinity War” brilliant is not its exciting battles, (which will be remembered as some of the greatest cinematic battle scenes) but that that it is so much more than just another big-budget superhero blockbuster movie. It is a moralistic conflict that ignores the simple good versus evil narrative in favor of a much more complex villain who truly believes that the ends justify the means. While Thanos is wrong, and in many ways evil, his position and beliefs are grounded in a desire for the betterment of the universe, an idea with which the audience, though somewhat begrudgingly, finds themselves sympathizing. “Avengers: Infinity War” inspires moral and philosophical debate, possibly more than any other superhero movie to date, debatably even “The Dark Knight.” “Infinity War” also demonstrates how far the superhero genre has come since its days of black and white stories of the heroes fighting villains whose sole desire is to be evil. There is a theme of failure throughout film. The protagonists fail in their quest, but not because they’re stupid or lazy. The Avengers do everything right. They save their friends, they make tactically smart decisions and they do everything they can to defeat Thanos, except making sacrifices. The Avengers make the morally-right decisions, and that is why they failed and why Thanos won. It is also what makes this so much darker and smarter than the average sequel film. “Avengers: Infinity War” is “The Empire Strikes Back” of 2018, and it is a movie that should be examined by future filmmakers who desire to create a film that is both satisfying in its content and also emotionally engaging.

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